Wednesday, 10 January 2007
Catholic school admission policy: Worth defending?
New rules on admission to schools published by Education Secretary Alan Johnson yesterday are a kick in the teeth for Roman Catholic headteachers.
Mr Johnson, my neighbouring constituency’s MP (west Hull and Hessle), is to ban the “first preference” system which gives priority to Catholics who select a Catholic school as first choice for their kids. The ridiculous rules also prevent Catholic schools from interviewing parents to judge their commitment to the faith.
These setbacks come despite an excellent victory for the Church over the Government’s embarrassing u-turn on proposals to force faith schools to admit at least 20 per cent of kids from other religions. No doubt that this was due to concerted pressure put on the Government by the Church. But are the rights of our Catholic schools worth protecting?
Today, I heard a very concerning story about a young pupil of a Catholic school who came home and told her mum that her RE teacher had announced to the whole class that abortion was fine and that marriage was an inconvenience because it will probably end up in a divorce anyway. Her mum (a sleeping Catholic) was horrified and so was I when I heard the story. To what extent are our Catholic schools worth defending when RE teachers come out with this crap?
Catholic parents should be able to trust that their kids are being catechised according to the Church’s teaching. But nothing could be further from reality in many Catholic institutions.
I was horrified when I recently came across one of my RE GCSE essays on euthanasia in a file on the computer the other day. It was so balanced, with me only coming down strongly with the teaching of the Church in the concluding paragraph. It seems the teaching about moral issues has deteriorated even further in the last five years.
Of course there are some excellent Catholic schools lucky enough to have sound RE teachers. But many are increasingly using textbooks which haven’t been granted an imprematur and are less than comprehensive in teaching the truths of Catholicism.
I’ve always been a supporter of Catholic schools, but what’s the point in fighting for control over admissions when teachers are telling kids that abortion is fine?